What is CBD Good For?: The Potential to Interact with Receptors Throughout Your Body
There’s been quite a bit of investigation in recent years involving the potential benefits of cannabidiol, CBD. Cannabidiol is one of the many non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis, a plant that has been used medicinally throughout recorded history. While our ancestors may have been aware of the many positive effects of cannabis, no one understood how or why it worked until recently.
Today, we know that CBD is just one of the more than 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis. The cannabis plant marijuana contains high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that creates the type of intoxication that marijuana is known for. CBD from hemp does not create an intoxicating effect. With CBD from hemp, you still get all the potential benefits of cannabis, without the high.
Your Network of Messengers and Receptors
We also know, thanks to scientific research, CBD has the potential to interact with your recently identified endocannabinoid system. Your endocannabinoid system facilitates the communication between your body and your brain. This messaging network is responsible for nearly every important function in your body. Just a few of the functions regulated by your endocannabinoid system include:
- Your moods and emotions
- Pain perception
- Immune system function
- Temperature regulation
- Memory and learning
- Cardiovascular function
- Sleep regulation
- Appetite, metabolism, and digestion
Many scientists believe that your endocannabinoid system’s main function is to regulate and stabilize the processes necessary for survival. This is known as homeostasis.1 Some researchers believe that disease is caused by a failure within the endocannabinoid system to remain balanced.
The Influences of CBD on Your Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids are neurotransmitters, the messengers of your endocannabinoid system. These messengers facilitate a response from your brain when they activate the receptors. Endocannabinoids are the cannabinoids created as needed by your body. There are two main endocannabinoids.
- 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) – found mostly in your brain
- Anandamide – mainly found in other areas of your body
Ultimately, your body would produce all the endocannabinoids it needs to stay balanced. Unfortunately, when your body is stressed by illness or injury, it may need more cannabinoids than it can produce. Plus, anandamide and 2-AG are quickly broken down by enzymes.
CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid, a cannabinoid from an outside source, the cannabis plants. This explains why CBD from hemp is a potentially beneficial dietary supplement; it’s a non-psychoactive source of cannabinoids that may supplement any imbalances within the endocannabinoid system.
The Receptors of Your Endocannabinoid System
As you now know, the messengers of your endocannabinoid system interact with the endocannabinoid receptors to generate the necessary responses. Your endocannabinoid system has two main cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are known as CB1 and CB2.
- CB1 receptors are present throughout your body but are most concentrated in your spinal column and your brain. The CB1 receptors in your hypothalamus influence your energy levels and metabolism, while the CB1 receptors in your amygdala influence your emotions and memories. You also have CB1 receptors in your nerve endings.
- CB2 receptors are most concentrated in your peripheral nervous system. This system branches out from your brain and spinal column and extends to other parts of your body. CB2 receptors are directly responsible for organ function, muscle movement, and immune system function. CB2 receptors within your immune cells reduce inflammation when they are activated.
The Indirect Impact of Cannabidiol on CB1 and CB2 Receptors
Recent laboratory studies have determined that CBD influences CB1 and CB2 receptors indirectly, while the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has a direct effect. That explains why CBD can potentially supplement your endocannabinoid system without the psychoactive effects.
The Potential Impact of CBD as a Reuptake Inhibitor
CBD can indirectly affect CB1 and CB2 receptors by functioning as a reuptake inhibitor. CBD indirectly delays the reuptake (absorption) of anandamide and 2-AG by inhibiting the production of the enzyme FAAH that breaks them down.
CBD is a pleiotropic compound, meaning it produces many effects. There are more than 65 known molecular targets, many unrelated to the endocannabinoid system. CBD shows the potential to modulates several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels, particularly the G- coupled protein receptors.
The Influence of CBD on Your Serotonin Receptors
Your G-coupled protein receptors are involved in several neurological and biological processes. CBD also activates the G-coupled protein serotonin receptors within your serotonin system. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter. It helps regulate your mood, digestion, and sleep.
The corresponding G-coupled protein receptor for serotonin is hydroxytryptamine (5-HT1A). When serotonin activates its corresponding receptors found within the central and peripheral nervous systems, it can create an excitatory or inhibitive response, depending on the chemical composition of the message.
The Potential Impact of CBD on the Dopamine Receptors
Your brain has several dopamine pathways. Your dopamine system regulates many aspects of your cognition and behavior. Dopamine also plays an essential role in muscle movement and your perception of pleasure and pain. This includes reward-seeking behavior and motivation.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, released by neurons, that sends signals to other nerve cells. It is released when the CB1 receptor is stimulated. CBD may also increase dopamine levels by suppressing GABA inhibitors.
The Effects of CBD on Your GABA Receptors
GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for blocking the impulses between nerve cells. When GABA receptors are activated, the excitability of overactive nerves is reduced.
CBD’s Potential Effects on Vanilloid Receptors
Vanilla, yes the same bean we value so highly for baking, contains eugenol, a plant essence that has analgesic and antiseptic properties. Vanilla is also shown to clear clogged blood vessels and has been used historically for headache relief.
Your body has vanilloid receptors. The receptor for vanilloid is known as TRPV1, which also functions as an ion channel. Ion channels convert mechanical and chemical signals to electrical signals, allowing only specific ions to pass.
CBD also binds with the vanilloid receptor. You may want to note that capsaicin, found in chili peppers and the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide also interacts with the TRPV1 vanilloid receptors.
Cannabidiol and the Orphan Receptor – GRP55
Cannabidiol appears to activate 5-HT1A serotonin receptors and several TRPV ion channels. CBD may also block or deactivate another G-coupled protein, GRP55.
For now, scientists are not entirely sure where GRP55 belongs within the larger family of receptors. They do know that it is involved in regulating blood pressure and bone density, as well as other physiological processes.
Cannabidiol as an Allosteric Modulator
It may also be beneficial to understand that CBD can also function as an allosteric modulator. That means that CBD can either enhance or inhibit how receptors transmit signals by changing the shape of the receptor. For example, CBD is a positive allosteric modulator for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) while it is a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 and others.
The study of your endocannabinoid system is relatively new, and the processes and functions are not entirely understood. It’s important that you understand that the potential benefits of CBD are based on laboratory studies, animal studies and the testimony of people who claim benefits from using CBD supplements. CBD is not a medication or cure for any known disorder. CBD is a dietary supplement.
CBD may have the potential to provide many neurological and biological benefits. Knowing how CBD could affect your body may help you determine if CBD supplements could benefit you. For more information on the potential benefits of hemp sourced CBD, we invite you to download The Ultimate CBD User Guide. We encourage you to absorb all the information you can about the potential health benefits of CBD. When you’re ready, visit us at CBDistillery to explore our selection of quality CBD oil, isolates, capsules, vape pens, and topical products.
- Scientific American. What is Homeostasis?